How $57 Million Holocaust Fraud Unfolded at Claims Conference

Letter From Manhattan Federal Court

Done Deal: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, right, and Julius Berman, chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, sign an agreement to expand benefits to Holocaust survivors.
getty images
Done Deal: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, right, and Julius Berman, chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, sign an agreement to expand benefits to Holocaust survivors.

By Paul Berger

Published May 09, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 4)

Conard pointed to the small number of applicants that Kramrish directed to the Claims Conference, an average of about two per year over a decade, saying, “That’s not a business, that’s a hobby. That’s what you do when people down the street say, ‘I heard your mum got approved, can you help me with my application?’”

Oksana Romalis, the third defendant, left the Claims Conference years before the fraud was discovered. Prosecutors allege that although Romalis and her daughter were born after World War II, they both received Hardship Fund payments. Prosecutors also accused Romalis of being a middleman for Blavatnik and Voskresenskiy.

Rohr said that Romalis passed between 150 and 200 fraudulent applications to the Claims Conference, largely by sending the organization signed, blank application forms. She also arranged for a Claims Conference employee to change some applicants’ addresses to Romalis’s Brooklyn home so that she could receive and control the money.

Romalis’s attorney, Harvey Slovis, delivered a long and impassioned defense of his client, quoting liberally from Shakespeare and once from Spike Lee.

Slovis told jurors that Romalis laundered checks from applicants because her friend, Voskresenskiy, asked her to do so and that Romalis did not benefit financially from the scheme. Slovis also implied that Jews, even children and grandchildren of survivors, could have believed they had a right to Holocaust funds.

“This wasn’t Germany’s money,” Slovis said. “It was money stolen from the Jews.”

That assertion may have surprised one other observer in the courtroom, a representative from the German consulate, which has sent a legal specialist to the trial each day. Her job: taking notes on how and why the money collected as taxes from German citizens went to individuals who were not Holocaust survivors.

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com or on Twitter @pdberger


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.